Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo joined me in the first hour Friday to talk about the Benghazi hearings and whether they will expand to include the Senate, the Keystone Pipeline, and most importantly, whether the votes are in the new Congress to kill any deal the president strikes with Iran and re-impose sanctions.
HH: We move to Congressman Mike Pompeo in the House of Representatives. Congratulations, Congressman, on your reelection.
MP: Thank you very much, sir, good to be back.
HH: Now you’ve been back there this week, and you reorganized. Which committees are you back on?
MP: So I’ll be on the same committees I was on. I’ll be on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and then on the Intelligence Committee, and will remain on the Benghazi Select Committee as well.
HH: On that last committee, do you expect to broaden it to include members of the Senate and make it a joint select committee?
MP: So I’ve heard discussion of that. And it would be fine with me in one sense. Conversely, I am always very worried when you begin to move, that you slow things down. And I do not want that. And so if there’s any risk that it’s going to cause delay or further cause to have to go back and retrace our path, I don’t want to do it.
HH: You know, I have talked this week, Congressman Pompeo, with Chuck Todd at length yesterday about his new book, The Stranger, the day before, with other inside the Beltway journalists. And they all say you’ve, Jon Allen, you Republicans, you can’t get off Benghazi. Everything’s been asked and answered. And I chuckle. But that is the dominant meme. How do you fight back against that?
MP: By doing our work, right? Same way you do in every place in life is you continue to grind away, and you continue the hard work of interviewing witnesses, talking to folks and then presenting your information to the American people. And when you do that, we can back them off from that. We know there’s still a lot we have not seen and not heard, and we intend to see and hear it all.
HH: Now we never get to talk about your work on the Intelligence Committee, and you should be fired if you did. I’m just curious if you think it will get better and more productive with a Republican Senate to help you in that work?
MP: It absolutely will. I’m very confident of that. I’m looking forward to that a great deal. One of the things that the Senate has spent an unbelievable amount of time on is going back six and eight years to things that happened during the Bush administration, to try and release reports to make the Bush administration still look bad. The fact that they are still working on that is quite remarkable, and I think not a very good use of resources, and will ultimately prove to the detriment of the Democrat Party. They’ve made it political, and we should never do that in this world.
HH: Now it seems to me that the release yesterday of the tape recording of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was something of a blow to our hopes that he had gone to this reward. But how do you think the war is going against ISIS?
MP: Well, you know, from a tactical perspective, we’ve made some progress in slowing their advance. So I’ll give credit to that. But beyond that, I can’t give any credit. There remains no strategy for what needs to be done, which is to keep America safe. They continue to refuse to take serious action to respond in a way that will be meaningful, which will put pressure on the Assad regime, push back against all the threats, whether that is ISIS or al Nusra, or Iran, all of whom are in Syria and Iraq, and each of whom needs its own attention.
HH: Now I want to turn over, Congressman Pompeo, to energy and commerce. And your chairman, or as he insists we call him Fred, finally can get some stuff moving through the Senate. What do you see as being his agenda, the Speaker’s agenda, the majority’s agenda? And what do you think is going to happen first in January and February?
MP: So we’ll start, today, we voted, frankly, on Keystone. So a small piece, but one that’s drawn a lot of attention. We’re going to turn to all of energy, work that we did in this year and the year prior, pass it again. These are things which push back on the President’s radical left climate change proposals, his efforts to regulate in places that make no sense. We’ll present them to the Senate, they’ll pass them, too, and the President will finally have to take a stand on each of these issues in a very public way. When you begin to veto things that are destroying jobs all across the country, I think we’ll begin to have successes that we couldn’t have anticipated a year ago.
HH: Now Mike Pompeo, the President in Burma today made remarks about Keystone that seemed to signal to me he’s going to veto that. Do you have the votes necessary to override that?
MP: You know, I don’t know. I suspect, Hugh, that if you took a look at what folks really want to do, the way they really, certainly on the Senate side, there would be enough votes. But I, this President wouldn’t have made a veto threat absent putting a tremendous amount of pressure on folks in his own party. So I imagine it will difficult to ultimately muster those votes on the floor.
HH: Now let me ask you about a second subject which is outside of energy and commerce, tangential to intelligence, but I know close to your heart as a veteran of West Point and the service, and that is Iran. I believe if sanctions are passed by the House and by the Senate, you’ll have a veto-proof majority for new sanctions on Iran. Do you see that happening?
MP: I do. I think you’re precisely right. When you look at the Iranian resolutions that we’ve put on the House floor, we’re talking about numbers in the 350-380 range consistently. It is widely acknowledged that releasing the pressure from the ayatollahs only does harm to America. This isn’t a partisan view. This isn’t a neocon view or a hawkish view. This is a common sense view. The President is way out of the mainstream. And I am convinced that as this president moves down the path he’s headed with his, he calls it an agreement, I call it a complete capitulation, that Congress broadly, not just Republicans, will push back against it, and continue to try and place pressure on the Iranian regime.
HH: And you know, it has never happened, as far as I know, that the Congress has cancelled an executive agreement. He dare not turn it into a treaty. It could never get through as a treaty. But he could enter into an executive agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program. That could be cancelled by Congressional action. Do you see that coming forward if he signs this deal, Congressman Pompeo?
MP: I can absolutely see us doing it. I have talked to many Democrats. I talked to three of them just today in a small group gathering, talking about this very issue. The Democrat Party understand, too, that the risk to America, right, the problems we have, whether it’s with Hezbollah or Hamas, or in Baghdad, and in some cases in Turkey, are directly related to Iranian continued expansion. And to the extent we let off the stranglehold, to the extent we give them the capacity to grow their economy, we will only further and increase their ability to create mischief in the Middle East, and ultimately destruction here in America.
HH: I’m talking with Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas, newly reelected and one of the players because he’s on Energy and Commerce, the most powerful committee, some way, and maybe Ways and Means is another one, and Banking. But the big three are those three. So Congressman, health is part of energy and commerce. People don’t get that, but Obamacare lies on your desk. It’s like a Looney Tunes car is how I wrote about it today. It’s falling apart, parts are falling off of it. Anything you can do to expedite its demise? Or are you just going to wait for the Supreme Court to strike out language that isn’t there?
MP: Well, I certainly hope the Supreme Court makes the simple decision that you just described. I hope they do that, and I hope they do it soon. But I think we have an obligation to continue to push there as well. This thing is, it’s like parts flying off a flywheel. And we have an obligation to help topple it over. It’s bad for America. It’s bad for jobs, and we ought to do it. I know that we will. We’ll push legislation early, and I don’t know exactly when. There are a number of reasons we may wait just a little bit longer. Maybe we consider it in a way that we don’t need 60 votes in the Senate under a complicated procedural process called reconciliation, thus needing only 51 votes in the Senate to present it to the President. And we’ll do this with a complete repeal, we’ll do it with major components that will fix some of the most damaging pieces. It will be relentless activity in 2015, I think, on both the House and the Senate side, and we’ll let the President account to the American people for why he continues to defend a broken system.
HH: Good luck on that. Good luck as well on managing your new constituent, the soon-to-be retired John Campbell, who will be in the studio next hour. I mean, I doubt a week will go by when you won’t get an angry phone call about cows or something.
MP: We welcome Californians coming to Kansas, Hugh.
HH: Congresman Mike Pompeo, our future Friday regular, so good to connect with you, and congratulations, enjoy your week.
End of interview.